by René Tankersley, feature editor
A few drivers at a truckstop in Concordia, MO, crane their necks up at the television-like monitor scrolling down lists of available loads in the area. Another driver talks on the phone to a broker who’s always good for a load headed home to South Carolina. A husband-and-wife team on their way to Chicago with a load of electronics uses a kiosk to e-mail their grandchildren and maybe find a load going out of Chicago the day after they make their delivery. Another driver is getting a shower, then eats supper while her freight matching service finds her a load headed anywhere but California. This savvy driver had already posted her availability with the online freight matching service and would be notified immediately via her pager when a load was available.
Freight matching services are popping up all over the Internet these days. A search for load boards and online freight matching services on a popular search engine resulted in more than 6,000 web page links, including some sites that are just now “under construction” or “coming soon.” And of course, there are those that are already out of business.
Like any other service, not all freight-matching services are alike. Some charge monthly subscriber fees only, while others add fees for each successful match. Some services are available strictly online, while others provide the same services via toll-free telephone and fax numbers. You can even get prepaid load cards similar to prepaid long-distance phone cards. Most online freight matching services allow drivers to test-drive their service via a trial search or a tour through their search process.
One thing to keep in mind is that these online services are not brokers. Their matching fees must be paid regardless of whether you have received load payment or not. All load transactions and billings are handled directly between the carrier and the shipper. It’s kind of like an old-fashioned matchmaker. The matchmaker might find you a bride, but what happens after the wedding is between you and the bride.
A test run of several online freight matching services found that most have easy-to-follow instructions that walk you through each screen. To register, drivers complete an online form with personal and billing information. To find freight, drivers enter information about their equipment, where they want to pick up a load and their preferred destination. The search matches their requests with available loads and gives them a list of loads. The load referral list includes contact telephone numbers for each load so the driver can call the shipper or broker and contract that load.
Some online services offer added services like credit reports, weather reports and mapping services. Many include these services in their membership or subscriber package, while others charge additional fees, or the services are provided by another company linked to the freight matching web site.
Getloaded.com allows drivers to check credit ratings for brokers and shippers, check weather and road conditions, and get accurate mileage by Rand McNally. Getloaded.com members aren’t shy about how they feel about the service they receive. OOIDA members were among those leaving comments at www.getloaded.com:
“It has provided me with great contacts and a huge decrease in deadhead over what we had done as a leased truck. The addition of credit scores has been a good one, too, as working with brokers that pay on time is a necessity in this business,” said Robert and Samantha Winchester of Winchester Family Transport in Brattleboro, VT.
“We made money today,” said Nancy Planta of NRL Inc. in Wapakoneta, OH. “I posted my trucks Saturday night, by Monday morning my phone was ringing. I covered my trucks early, through actual trucking companies – not brokers or third parties.”
“I don’t worry so much now about finding a load anymore, because each time I sign on I’m sure there is a load going somewhere I may want to go,” reported Thomas Porter of Porter Brothers Trucking Co. Inc. in Charlotte, NC.
“Since becoming a subscriber I never have to sit and wait or lay over some nights waiting for a load,” said Ryan Carter of Roc’s Trucking Co. in Farnham, VA.
Launched in September, eFreight Services is one of the newer online freight matching services. The web-based business at www.efreightservices.com has five main areas – loads, trucks, credit,
e-mail and factoring – accessible from any screen you may be in at any given time. This eliminates the need to return to the main menu or to backspace to a previous option. The site is equipped with instant e-mail notification. An e-mail alert is sent to the driver when a match is made for the load or truck posted. Membership costs $20 per month with no additional fees for accepting a load or truck.
In addition to the load matching service, eFreight has links for credit reports, e-mail and factoring. Optional link services have their own fees for certain privileges. The credit link features Red Book Credit Services, which enables members to conduct credit checks on the brokers or carriers listed. Factoring is handled through TFC Textron. eFreight offers its members free e-mail provided by iMail.
NetTrans at www.nettrans.com adds a QuickPay factoring program for carriers, watchdog instant notification of new postings, credit reports, free classified advertisements and free web mail. Subscribers can add extra users to their account for free, find repair centers and road conditions, and calculate truck mileage and routing, too.
Probably the newest online freight matching service, Shippers Direct Inc.’s web site is under construction. Its URL address, www.BeBrokerFree.com, expresses one of the company’s goals – getting rid of the middlemen (aka brokers and freight forwarders). They do not allow brokers and freight forwarders on their web site so drivers deal directly with shippers and will receive 100 percent of the load revenue and fuel surcharge.
Shippers Direct also maintains what owners Allen and Tamara Kidney call a “fax-free environment” to eliminate all the faxing back and forth between drivers and shippers.
“The carrier faxes us his authority, W-9 and certificate of insurance, and he’ll never have to fax it again,” Tamara said. “The shipper will be able to view or print these credentials as needed.”
Shippers Direct has a shipper-carrier contract online that all members must agree to before signing so this will not have to be faxed back and forth either.
Because drivers do not always have access to a computer, it is important that freight matching services use more than one mode of communication with the driver.
LoadScout provides service through multiple access points – toll-free phone, toll-free fax, e-mail and its web site at www.LoadScout.com. Once a driver indicates the types of loads he wants, LoadScout continually searches for newly posted loads that match the customized criteria. Then, LoadScout notifies the driver instantly either by phone or computer when a load match is found.
CargoLinx’s freight matching service is available at www.cargolinx.com, but also may be handled with a service representative over the phone if the driver is not into computer technology yet or can’t get to a computer. Carriers pay a monthly subscription fee based on their number of trucks and then a flat fee for each load successfully matched.
Through DAT Services at www.dat.com, drivers can find loads using load monitors in truckstops, online freight matching, or a prepaid load card via a toll-free number. OOIDA member Sam R. Boston prefers DAT Services because it’s “easy to use and has the most loads.”
The online service allows drivers to search for loads based on specific information entered into the search fields. Load Cards provide a toll-free number where drivers get six load searches with up to four leads each for $20. Major credit cards, Comcheck, T-check, EFS and TIC payments are accepted for purchase and recharge.
DAT load monitors, usually located in driver lounges or arcade areas, list load postings and job leads. The listing indicates the equipment type, the origin and destination of the freight, the company posting the load and a contact telephone number for this particular load.
While many services list a variety of different load types – flatbed, reefer, dry van, etc. – specialized segments of the industry are getting their own freight matching services. On Time Media’s stable of expedited freight web sites include www.expediteloads.com, an online freight matching service for the expedited freight industry. Flatbed haulers might want to check out www.eFlatbed.com, while household goods movers would set their browser for www.moversconnect.com. While specialized services eliminate loads that you would not be interested in, the generalized freight matching services have a variety of loads in all categories.
Truckers say ...
Land Line gives drivers the opportunity to voice their opinions about freight matching services through an online questionnaire at the Land Line and OOIDA web sites.
The most popular freight matching services to date are NetTrans, Internet Truckstop, DAT Services and GetLoaded. Other services mentioned by truckers included iTruckers, LoadScout, Efr8 and Load Direct. Most truckers included comments and recommendations about freight matching services. Some services received mixed reviews, while others received high marks and still others received low marks.
Rob Rathfon, an OOIDA member from Duncannon, PA, uses itruckers.com and getloaded.com, but says he’s really not impressed with any of them.
“I find most of the loads posted are cheaply rated and are there as a last resort,” Rathfon said. “If it’s found on a load board or Internet, it was no doubt refused numerous times for numerous reasons.”
If he had to recommend a freight matching service, it would be itruckers.com. He says most services list the same freight while some charge for it and others don’t. He says he usually looks for loads through brokers and freight forwarders.
On the other hand, OOIDA member Lorena M. Johnson uses GetLoaded and recommends it because it “has a lot of loads in all areas.”
Larry Sanders, an OOIDA member from Sugar Grove, OH, uses NetTrans at www.nettrans.com. He rates this service as fair because he says the list needs to be updated more often. He finds most of his loads on load boards posted in truckstops.
Another NetTrans user and OOIDA member, Terry Barnes recommends NetTrans because he likes the brokers who list their freight there.
Sam R. Boston, an OOIDA member from Grandview, MO, recommends DAT Services because it is easy to use and has the most loads.
Richard Bridgeforth, an OOIDA member from Everson, WA, suggests the Internet Truckstop because it helps find loads and is “somewhat less expensive than others.”
What about the six drivers who don’t use freight matching services? Where do they find their loads? Five of these six drivers say they get most of their loads from brokers and freight forwarders. And, three of those 11 drivers who use online services say they still get most of their loads from brokers and freight forwarders.
Online Matching Services
With the ever-increasing number of freight matching services available, it is impossible to review each one.